When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I am very creative and artistically inclined, so since I was five years old, I was already reading the local newspaper and magazines, picking “beautiful expressions” the way I used to call them, gathered them in a book that turned out to be over the years, five huge notebooks, with thousands of metaphors. I learnt to paint from my Uncle Petre, and I was drawn to beauty and fashion due to my Mother’s aesthetical sense. So, my writing journey started at a very fragile age. I had poems published in the school’s newspapers and paintings that won UNICEF Special Mention Award
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother has been my muse. The crashing phone call I received in early March, 2008, telling me that my Mother had between 3 and 6 more months to live due to liver cancer has given me the arduous desire to write about her and for her. The book is a tribute to the one who gave me life, nurtured me and taught me how to grow wings and become the woman I have become today. I owe her everything.
My rollercoaster journey to the US has given me the facts, the tearful stories all gathered in my memoir “Out of the Transylvania Night,” which has three parts dealing with my life in Romania during the communist regime, after the fall of Ceausescu, and my life in the US, chasing the American Dream and the house with the white picket fences.
Each experience was the headstone for another path, another tunnel that I really didn’t know where and how is going to end. Being away from my family has not been easy, even if our phone conversations happened daily. My emotions transpire in my rapidly-paced writing, giving away my desires, my inabilities, my internal struggles, my mistakes and regrets, my love and admiration for people I came in contact with.
How do you create the characters in your books? Are they based on people you know?
The names of my characters are from my real life experiences, for I come in contact with at least 500 people in a year, due to my teaching jobs and my ability to be very communicative with people. I have selective memory, so I remember the names that are different: weird or stunningly beautiful to me. I used them in my writing, but the real life character might not embody his true known self.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
I like a variety of authors from Michael Connelly, Nicholas Sparks, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sylvia Nasar, and Stephanie Meyer to Francis S. Fitzgerald, Elie Wiesel, John Steinbeck, and Mark Twain. I love psychology, so I adore Sigmund Freud and spiritualist like Deepak Chopra. I adore the style of writing of Margaret Mitchell and “Gone with the Wind,” a rare book that you will never forget. The moment you read it once, you will always remember the characters, the setting of the South, the American history and the love story that runs throughout the whole epic tale. It had always been my all time favorite.
If you weren’t a writer, what be your profession?
A psychologist. The human mind is the most amazing pocket of mysteries that can be unveiled with the right tools and a stringent desire.
If you could trade places with anyone in the world, past or present, real or fiction, who would it be and why?
Francis Scott Fitzgerald. I absolutely adore the 1920s.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?
My laptop, my coffee, and my cookies. Did I mention cookies?
What is your favorite movie of all time?
“The Kid Stays in the Picture”
What is the one thing that you want all your fans to know?
I love life!
And on a longer note, I was born and raised in Transylvania, in Sibiu, a city that was named Cultural Capital of Europe in 2007, and was considered by Forbes the 8th most idyllic place to live in Europe. The architecture and the history of my homeland is more than intriguing, not necessarily due to Dracula or Vlad Dracul under his real name, but because of the Bran, Hunedoara, Peles, Rasnov, Fagaras castles and Sighisoara, Biertan, Sibiu, Brasov, medieval towns and citadels. The region of Transylvania has a rich historic heritage, from ancient fortresses and temples to medieval towns, churches and castles to renaissance and baroque palaces. Some of the castles and fortresses perished, many lie in ruins, and some have endured throughout the passing of time, witnesses of a glorious as well as turbulent history. Transylvania, which means the land beyond the forest, was first referred to in a Medieval Latin document in 1075 as ultra silvam. Surrounded by nature, legends and folktales, I grew up in a Romanian family of Greek roots, ancestry mentioned by prime ministers and famous historian in the annals of history. The Imbarus family was stripped of its properties, acres of arable land, green pastures and orchids, houses and money, their carriage transportation businesses, and order to join the Communist Party, like many other families. My Dad never yield while my uncles crossed the borders illegally, being caught and sent to Gherla, the most notorious prisons for political detainees. Our family was blacklisted for having ties with the west, Western Germany where my uncles, after a successful escape, settled down and talked against the regime on Free Europe Radio Station. Even if life during the Communist regime was harsh with rationed food, electricity and gas being monitored while the quota per family was cut down to the bare minimum, with the vision of long lines of people waiting as early as 3am to buy a litter of milk and a loaf of bread for their whole family, I was given an early education and care by my amazing grandparents and my parents. They taught me to be myself, no matter what, to believe in a brighter tomorrow and to educate myself to become “somebody.” I had their wholeheartedly support in being a rebel in the way I dressed myself, using my own creations, I dyed my hair in pink and green, and I thought and acted accordingly.
If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?
Albert Einstein - It is always good to have someone who knows math when the bill comes.
Dalai Lama –Great to have someone smart and world-rounded at your table; someone you can strike a conversation with.
Bill Clinton – It is mandatory to have a good negotiator around you, no matter what.
Oprah – A smart, articulate woman makes dinner well worth it.
My mother – She is my idol!
If you could use a time machine, would you go to the past or check out the future?
I would go to the past to relive it in the midst of my amazing family, among the members I don’t have around anymore.
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Disclosure: I did not receive any form of compensation for this post.